LAS VEGAS — After barely breaking a sweat in September, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will finally get a chance to play in some serious games this month as the college football schedule begins to improve in quality.
The Tigers coasted in their only two games, outscoring Wake Forest and The Citadel by a combined 86-13, as Lawrence completed 81 percent of his passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns. Lawrence is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, and the Jets are the favorites to hold that pick.
Will scouts get to see Lawrence play four quarters this week? Clemson is a 28.5-point favorite over Virginia. If that sounds familiar, it should. In last year’s ACC title game, Clemson was a 30.5-point favorite over the Cavaliers and rolled to a 62-17 win.
Virginia, which returned 15 starters and has the talent to be an upper-tier ACC team, opened the season last week with a 38-20 victory over Duke. Brennan Armstrong, a redshirt sophomore quarterback, lived up to his last name by passing for 269 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start.
Still, this is a mismatch, and resting starters is probably part of the game plan for Tigers coach Dabo Swinney. With a much bigger test against Miami on deck, Clemson could be looking ahead. Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall will fight to keep the score respectable.
The pick: Virginia +28.5.
South Carolina (+16.5) over FLORIDA
Kyle Trask passed for 416 yards and six touchdowns as the Gators opened by dropping 51 points on Mississippi in an impressive offensive outburst that has inflated this line. Trask is facing a tougher Gamecocks defense this week. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp has covered two of the past three against the Gators, including a four-point loss at Gainesville in 2018.
Navy-AIR FORCE Under 46.5
The Midshipmen scored three points in their first six quarters this season before rallying for a 27-24 win at Tulane on Sept. 19. Air Force will put a team on the field, but what it will look like is a mystery. The Falcons had 40 players opt out when the Mountain West initially canceled the football season. Some of those players could return, but not quarterback Donald Hammond, who left the team in July. Expect both teams to run the ball and the clock.
GEORGIA (-7.5) over Auburn
This line has dipped below seven at most books because of the Bulldogs’ ragged debut. Georgia, a 28-point favorite at Arkansas, trailed 7-5 at halftime before third-string quarterback Stetson Bennett came to the rescue and led three straight touchdown drives on the way to a 37-10 win. Bennett might start this game, though USC transfer JT Daniels has been cleared to play after recovering from a knee injury. Georgia’s defense will put pressure on QB Bo Nix and the Tigers’ young offensive line.
Last week: 3-0-1. Texas Tech (W), Louisville (P), Iowa State (W), Mississippi State (W).
2020 season: 7-2-1.
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